It wasn’t long ago that Franklin County High School student Gage Talbot found himself before a local judge after skipping days of classes when he attended Preston High School.
“I remember saying that I have a schooling problem, that I needed something new,” Talbot said.
That new something turned out to be Franklin County High School, an alternative school in Preston for boys and girls in the Southeastern Idaho end of Cache Valley. Talbot, who enrolled there with few credits under his belt, embraced the small faculty and class sizes and will graduate with his diploma this month.
“Before, it didn’t even seem like a thing that was going to happen,” he said. “Now, I actually feel accomplished, and the fact that I am graduating … is just surreal to me now.”
Talbot said if he had not applied himself in school, he probably would have dropped out and not had the skills he has now.
Talbot just recently turned 20, is married, lives in Smithfield and works as a repairman and “stock boy” for Logan Coach.
But the road to that point was not so easy, he said.
Talbot was born in Logan. He attended Bridger and Wilson elementary schools in Logan before moving to Preston, his father’s hometown. Once there, he attended Preston Junior High School.
Talbot described himself as a “terrible student” who did not like school.
“It felt like a chore to me,” he said. “I was always forced to go and I just didn’t have a good time.”
Kyle Jordan, an instructor at Franklin High who knew Talbot when he was a student at Preston Junior High, said Talbot had “zero study habits … zero desire and zero ambitions.”
“And that carried forth into high school as well,” Jordan said.
When Talbot enrolled in Preston High School, he misbehaved and lost interest in class so much that he began skipping school.
“I was just staying at home, sleeping,” he said with a chuckle. “Now that I look at it, it was a total waste of my time.”
It was not until Talbot was put on probation and sentenced to perform 100 hours of community service that he realized he needed to change his ways.
Talbot knew a friend who went to FCHS and he began considering attending himself.
“I remember telling my parents it actually sounded like something that was up my alley,” he said. “The more that I found out about Franklin County, the more that I wanted to go. I tried my hardest to get accepted into the school.”
Talbot was put on a waitlist for a full year before enrolling at FCHS in 2016.
“It was night and day, a complete change. My whole entire personality changed when I went back to school,” Talbot said. “My first class was automatically way better than any class I had already been in.”
Steve Smith, an instructor at FCHS, said he was impressed with Talbot’s work ethic.
Once Talbot “understood what he had to do to be able to pass the classes … he really buckled in” and applied himself, Smith said.
Don Philbrick, an instructor at FCHS, said the school’s daily approach to classes — in which students spend five hours a day on one class — could have been the key to Talbot’s success.
“He had to master one skill at a time instead of trying to master seven,” Philbrick said. “Our school was designed for people to be successful. He had to recognize that and appreciate that and indulge in the program.”
Talbot said as a student at FCHS, he felt like he was able to spend more time on projects “instead of being rushed like a normal high school.”
“I actually got to accomplish things,” he said.
Talbot exceeded in projects outside the classroom, too. For his senior project, Talbot took a 1991 Mazda Miata and overhauled it, owing to his hobby as a car mechanic. He is also a fan of the “Fast and Furious” film franchise.
“I love it,” Talbot said of the car, which still sits on his Smithfield property. “It’s my baby.”
Jordan said he enjoys seeing students like Talbot succeed in the classroom.
“Once they have a taste of that success and they see the lights come on — for us, that’s our joy,” he said.
Jordan also said school officials enjoy seeing students succeed after they graduate.
Talbot met his wife on the dating app Tinder. When they married earlier this year, the ceremony took place at the same courthouse where Talbot received probation — and the same judge presided.
“I was just thinking, ‘This guy doesn’t think that I’m that terrible kid that I was before,’” Talbot said. “But he made that day pretty awesome. He was super enthusiastic about the whole thing. He was just so happy that he was the one marrying us.”
Talbot said education was important to his new wife and he had to “strive myself to be the best I can for her.”
With school — and courthouse appearances — behind him, Talbot said he is looking forward to his next chapter in life.
In an interview with The Herald Journal, he shared an inspirational message for future graduates of FCHS.
“If you want it, you’ve got to work for it,” Talbot said.